Interview with Gary Anthony Sturgis

TV Interview!

 

Gary Anthony Sturgis plays warlock Julius on "Wicked City" on ALLBLK

Interview with Gary Anthony Sturgis of “Wicked City” on ALLBLK by Suzanne 11/20/23

I had a blast chatting with Gary! He is so funny, smart and entertaining, and he loves to talk. We’ve been Facebook friends for 14 years, so it was great to finally “meet” face to face. He’s been in many great shows and movies. Not only is he a talented actor, he’s also an accomplished writer!

 

MORE INFO:

Gary Anthony Sturgis plays warlock Julius on "Wicked City" on ALLBLKGary Anthony Sturgis is a New Orleans born actor/writer/director best-known for his portrayal of the villain in two of Tyler Perry’s biggest hit films, “Diary of A Mad Black Woman” (as Jamison Jackson) and “Daddy’s Little Girls” (as Joseph Woods). He also co-starred opposite Terrence Howard in “Pride”, as the charming yet sinister pimp/drug dealer Franklin Washington. Recently, he has stepped out the role of bad guy to co-star in the comedy “Chicago Pulaski Jones” with Kel Mitchell and Cedric the Entertainer.

Also a professional voice artist, Sturgis has voiced network promos for UPN, CBS, PBS and ABC, cartoons and video games (Static Shock, Batman, Scooby Doo and The Cyber Chase, Fairly Odd Parents, Spiderman) and is heard on countless commercials for radio and television. His raspy bass-baritone voice that the women find hard to resist has even been heard on national movie trailers and promotions for; “Bones”, “Two Can Play That Game”, “The Others”, “The Brothers” and “The Wood” to name a select few. In addition, he is also the voice for the History Channel’s “K-9 Cops”. For another surprise, Gary also produces and writes rap music and has a successful recording under the moniker Illuminati called Fahrenheit, which is still available on iTunes.

As a writer/producer, Gary is producing some of his own feature-length screenplays (he has written more than ten), and has packaged his works into three and four picture deals and commenced to shopping them around town for financing and distribution. We have only scratched the surface of this multi-faceted creative soul.

Since Sturgis had been writing for years, the next natural progression was to direct. After directing “Lend A Hand”, a 90-second short film for the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Gary realized that directing was yet another feather he could stick in his talented cap.

Follow Gary on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

WICKED CITY Official Site

"Wicked City" season 2 streams on ALLBLK

A group of urban witches push their powers to new heights and uncover dark secrets that attract dangerous enemies their way. Explore other projects that were filmed in Atlanta, Georgia at https://www.exploregeorgia.org/film.

US RATING: TV-MA

Cast: Vanessa Bell Calloway, Taylor Polidore, Shaquita Smith, Rhonda Morman, Chantal Maurice, Mercedez McDowell, Chanel Mack

Director: Dale S. Lewis

PRESS RELEASE:

LIFE’S A WITCH IN THE ATL

ALLBLK RELEASES TRAILER FOR SEASON TWO OF  SUPERNATURAL DRAMA WICKED CITY  PREMIERING OCTOBER 19 

Cast Includes Vanessa Bell Calloway, Karon Joseph Riley, Taylor Polidore, Shaquita Smith, Mercedez McDowell, Chantal Maurice, Chanel Mack, and more

VIEW TRAILER

New York, NY – October 4, 2023 – Today, ALLBLK, the popular streaming service for Black television from AMC Networks, released the trailer for the sophomore season of supernatural drama, Wicked City. The 8-episode series premieres Thursday, October 19, with new episodes dropping every Thursday exclusively on ALLBLK 

In season one, we followed a coven of Black witches who pushed their supernatural powers to new heights after uncovering dark secrets and accidentally entering the world of the forbidden. This season, three months after failing to stop a magical slaver named The Handler (Karon Joseph Riley, Ambitions), the Atlanta coven find themselves broken and separated. Jordan (Shaquita Smith,The Couch) – who now runs The Mystic Haven – and Angela (Chantal Maurice, P-Valley) try and fail to find Sherise (Chanel Mack, The Harder They Fall) who’s being held captive by The Handler. Mona (Mercedez McDowell, The Resident) has moved away, and Camille (Taylor Polidore, Snowfall) is put in permanent hiding by her birth mother, Claudette (Rhonda Redette Morman, Hush). Unbeknownst to the coven, Tabitha (Vanessa Bell Calloway, Shameless) and Caden (Malika Blessing, The Perfect Man) are trapped inside a nightmare realm as Claudette exacts her revenge. Meanwhile, Sherise is forced to do The Handler’s bidding at his high-class magical supper club “Obsidian Dream.” 

Additional cast includes India Marie Cross (It Wasn’t Me),  Yandy Smith-Harris (Love and Hip Hop Atlanta), Gary Anthony Sturgis (Diary of a Mad Black Woman), Samantha James (Black and Blue), Kamilah Meek (Young Rock), Kurtis D. Glenn (The Assistant 3), Clover J. Adams (Taylor’s Diary), Maurice P. Kerry (Atlanta), Krystal Monique Mosley (Dhoom 3), Michael Silberblatt (Hawkeye), Marco Reese Maldonado (A Killer Romance), Carrie Anne Hunt (Magic Mike XXL), Michael M. Jones (P. Valley) and Sasha McKoon 

Tressa “Azarel” Smallwood (MegaMind Media) and Donte Lee executive produced the series created & written by Kristin Iris Johnson and Serena M. Lee. Head of Content, Brett Dismuke and SVP of Development & Original Production, Unscripted, Nikki Love, executive produce for ALLBLK.  

About ALLBLK 

ALLBLK is an invitation to a world of streaming entertainment that is inclusively, but unapologetically – Black. Featuring a diverse lineup of content that spans across genres and generations, the ALLBLK library includes exclusive original series such asA House DividedandDouble Cross; must-see independent films, nostalgic Black cinema, popular WE tv originals, lively stage plays, and so much more. ALLBLK is available everywhere streaming services are found – iOS, Android, Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV and Apple TV Channels, Roku and Roku Channels, Amazon Fire TV,YouTube TV, Cox, DISH, Sling TV, Charter and more. Atwww.ALLBLK.tv, ALLBLK offers a free 7-day trialand thereafter is just $5.99/month or $59.99/year.Keep up with ALLBLK on Facebook atFacebook.com/WatchALLBLKand Twitter/Instagram @WatchALLBLK. 

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Gary Anthony Sturgis plays warlock Julius on "Wicked City" on ALLBLK

Interview with Chrystee Pharris

TV Interview!

 

Chrystee Pharris of "Monogamy"

Interview with Chrystee Pharris of “Monogamy” on ALLBLK by Suzanne 11/23/21

This was such a fun interview! Chrystee is just great. She’s smart, passionate, funny – and an amazing actress! I’ve enjoyed reading her Facebook posts for years as well as seeing her on TV. I’m so glad we were able to do this.

Chrystee: How are you doing today?

Suzanne: All right. I’m not quite awake.

Chrystee: Where are you located?

Suzanne: I’m in Arkansas right now. I’m from San Diego originally, and then we move around a lot for my husband’s job.

Chrystee: Oh, I was gonna say, “San Diego to Arkansas?”

Suzanne: Oh, it’s worse than that. I haven’t lived to San Diego since 1982. We went here from Hawaii.

Chrystee: Oh my gosh. Is he military?

Suzanne: No, he’s a professor.

Chrystee: Okay, because as soon as you said San Diego and Hawaii, I was like, “Oh, that sounds like military.”

Suzanne: Yeah, actually, the reason I was in San Diego is because my dad was in the military, and he had been there and then liked it. So, we went back after he retired.

Chrystee: My dad was in the military as well.

Suzanne: Which branch?

Chrystee: He was in the Air Force. So I was born on Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Suzanne: Oh, nice. Yeah, my dad was in the Air Force too. I was born in Northern California. It used to be Travis Air Force Base, but I guess it’s gone now, or the hospital’s gone. One of them’s gone. I can’t remember. I was too young to know anyway.

Chrystee: I feel you on that one.

Suzanne: Yeah. So, we’ve been Facebook friends for a long time. I don’t know if you recognize my name. You actually have a lot of Facebook friends.

Chrystee: Oh, wow. No, I don’t think I’ve paid that much attention. There’re so many people. That’s so wonderful.

Suzanne: It’s so great to finally meet you, because I had thought about asking you for an interview at one point, but I thought, “Well I don’t know what she’s doing,” and then I sort of forgot about it, because I got busy.

Chrystee: Oh, yeah. I would have said yes. You know, what else? It also just depends. I mean, like, a lot of times we are super busy, but a lot of times we’re not. And because we’re all independent contractors, it’s a hustle market. It’s not like you have a nine to five where you know what doing and you have a steady paycheck. But in the acting world, you’re an independent contractor, and you’re constantly trying to find work. So, you have to stay busy, otherwise you don’t have income coming in. So, we’re always busy, but yet we’re not busy. You know what I mean?

Suzanne: Yeah. So, so what attracted you to the role of Diandra?

Chrystee: You know, it’s interesting, I know, Caryn Ward and Craig Ross Jr., they’re both married, they created the show. Craig called me out of the blue and said, “Hey, Chrystee, I have this show, kind of an experimental situation. It’s a new network -” which at the time it was called, I can’t remember; now It’s called Allblk, and that’s owned by AMC. He was like, “We’re not really sure what’s going to happen, but I would love for you to play this role.” And I was like, “Okay, of course,” and then he was like, “Do you want to read the script first?” And I was like, “Oh, I guess I should do that, but, yeah, of course, I’ll do this role.”

Then, next thing you know, I remember reading it and kind of getting a little nervous, because I was like, “Wow, I’ve never played a character like this before.” It was definitely a challenge. I remember the first day, and we were doing it, and I’m just “Da da da da,” and he’s like, “No, no, no. You gotta – she’s not – she’s more like this,” you know, because I have to be opposite of Caryn’s character.

And from there, I just was able to slip into this wonderful character that’s changed my life in a lot of ways. I mean, she’s so complex. Things have changed a little bit now, just because the industry has changed. Especially with Black Lives Matter, black people are hot at this moment. So, I say that with a joke. Of course, nobody would understand that, because they’re reading it as opposed to seeing this interview, but when you look at things that are like, I don’t know, different shows, the black girl was always the side chick, the best friend. She didn’t have complex dialogue, storyline. This character is so complex. She has so much stuff going on in her life. This third season, I mean, you just see so much come out that the fans are like, “Wow.” The first season they loved me. Second season, they did not like me. Third season, they were like, “Oh, my God, I completely understand her. Wow, been through that. Wow.” Then, they had compassion for me. Then, the next episode after that, after the first episode, they were like, they had compassion for me. They’re like, “Oh, man, I understand her. Wow.” The next episode after that, episode three, they hated me again. Then, by the end of the season, they’re just like, “Oh, my God, we’re pulling for her.” I’ve never seen fans go through the emotional up and down with the character that I played before. It’s just beautiful. I mean, I just I love Diandra. She’s probably my favorite so far.

Suzanne: And what would you say that you and she have the most in common and what you have that’s very different?

Chrystee: Well, one thing that is not in common is that I’m not worth $10 million. I mean, this character is worth – her parents left her money before they died. That portion of it, I definitely cannot relate to, and being calm and collected, but people would look at me and go, “No, what are you talking about? That is you,” Like, I suppress my emotions, but yet I can’t suppress my emotions. So, it’s like this dual battle.

What I probably can relate to is just the complexity of marriage and divorce and the complexity of family and the trauma that you can go through with family. I think I can relate to that. Not to say that my family went through crazy times, but enough that you think you’re the only person who’s gone through this, and you realize, no, a lot of people have complex relationships with their families, you know? Like my brother passed away. Actually, it’ll be three years now, but he was bipolar, schizophrenic, homeless, you know what I mean? So, you try to hide those things. You don’t want people to see what’s really going on in your family. You try to hide those, and then you realize, “Oh, maybe you don’t have to hide it,” that a lot more of us have gone through these things, and you try to deal with it. Then, the heartbreak of losing them without even being able to say goodbye is the hardest thing in the world, you know?

Suzanne: Yeah, I can imagine. I watched season one yesterday, and I really enjoyed it.

Chrystee: Thanks.

Suzanne: I’m sure I’m not the only one that is playing catch up, because people nowadays, they’ll binge watch some show they never watched.

Chrystee: Yeah.

Suzanne: So, what can you tell me do I have to look forward to in seasons two and three?

Chrystee: Well, part of the thing that you look forward to is that the production value is better. laughs

Suzanne: I did see the first episode of the second season, so I know what you’re talking about.

Chrystee: Yeah, I mean, it’s like night and day, because we actually finally had gotten a budget. That’s definitely number one. But that journey of season two, now you’re pulling for you know, who do you want to stay together? Who do you want to split apart? And for the people who are reading this article, the show, Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy is about four couples who are going through marital issues, and they decide to do a spousal swap through an experiment to work out their relationship. Which is crazy in itself, but that second season, you’re really sitting there going, “Oh my gosh, which relationship do I want to stay together?” Like, who do you want to to stay? You get to season three, and you’re not expecting any of what happens in season three. I remember getting the script and going, “What in the world?” You know what I mean? Like, “What the what?”

"Monogamy" on ALLBLKAnd that’s the great thing about the writers, for this show, is you think that the show is going to go one way, and it completely goes left, and you’re kind of in shock. Nothing in the show is predictable, like nothing. Even I remember this particular season – I’m watching the show in real time, because we don’t get to see it ahead of time, and, literally, I remember when I got to episode three or four, and I remember saying, “I cannot remember what happens. I have to go back and reread the script.” And I reread the script, and my significant other was so mad, because he was like, “Well, let me read it.” And I was like, “No, you gotta watch it.” And he’s like, “That’s not fair! You’re gonna read it, and I don’t get to read it. That’s just not fair.” And I was like, “I don’t care.” And I went back and read the whole entire last season of episodes.

But yeah, I promise you, people are going to go through an emotional roller coaster ride, because it’s just so unpredictable. It really isn’t predictable. It almost makes me go, “Really Diandra?”

Suzanne: It has a sci-fi vibe to it, even though it’s not sci-fi, because of the people that you never see and that kind of thing.

Chrystee:
Yeah.

Suzanne: It makes it interesting. Or one of those weird Korean dramas that may or may not be sci-fi.

Chrystee: Yeah, like it seems like some extraterrestrial, although it’s not in any way, shape, or form, but it’s kind of like, it’s not quite like Squid Games, but Squid Games –

Suzanne: It has that vibe.

Chrystee: Yeah. Where you have these people that are talking, and you never see their faces and so forth. Just a little bit, yeah.

Suzanne: And it kind of goes back all the way, if you want to go back all the way to a show like The Prisoner from the 1960s, which I don’t remember if it was strictly sci-fi or it just felt that way, where they had a man who was being kept prisoner. They wouldn’t give him a name. He had a number.The cast of "Passions" on NBC

Chrystee:
I never saw that.

Suzanne: Yeah. It’s a little obscure, but sci-fi fans know it.

Chrystee: Gotcha.

Suzanne: So, that kind of thing is very interesting, and even though they’re not really prisoners, they sign up to be prisoners. So, it’s similar in a way. They have to follow the rules. It struck me interesting that they all followed the rules, I guess because their financial finances were on the line. It would make me wonder how people would act that would do that if their finances were not on the line. It was almost like a reality show, in a way. It was scripted. I guess they did have a Wife Swap reality show, but it wasn’t quite the same way. It wasn’t really wife swapping; they called it wife swapping, but it was family swapping. It didn’t have the whole sexual aspect to it.

Chrystee: Yeah, and, I mean, in season two, there’s a financial challenge, and it makes you wonder how people are going to react, and Diandra goes through that a little bit, in the second season, and it takes her out of her cool, calm collected, “I know how to handle this stuff.” I mean, I think that’s why season two has its own journey.

Suzanne: Yeah, and it struck me as odd that the show is on a streaming channel, and it’s very sexual, but at least what I’ve seen so far, there’s no actual nudity.

Chrystee: No.

Suzanne: You know If this was on HBO, Showtime, Netflix there would have been nudity. So, do you know why they chose that?

Chrystee: Well, I mean, I just think because of the streaming network; this particular network is still limited. I’m not sure if they can take it that far, but I think also, out of respect – I mean, which is why the director is so amazing is that he makes sure that you’re all comfortable with what’s happening. Like in season three, it gets, for my character, in my opinion, a little more riskier, to a certain degree. He and I had had a talk about it, what I was comfortable with, but because of the fact that we shot it during the pandemic, and you want to be COVID safe, he had to change things around and be sure that they could still get the story across without compromising anything or putting us in jeopardy, our lives in jeopardy, because of COVID.

Suzanne: Right. So, that was why there was a year between season two and three with COVID, but you didn’t take the whole year off?

Chrystee: Yes. So the reason why it was it prolonged the first season to the second season was because it was a new network, so they had to do whatever you do. Then, finally we got greenlit; we shot it. We were getting ready to shoot the next season. The pandemic hit. Okay, so, we were like, “Hey, we’re gonna be shooting.” “Wait; hold on. Something’s happening. Oh, wait a minute.” Like, you know, “I’m scared. I don’t want to go anywhere.”

Suzanne: Yeah, I know. So, what’s it been like working with Brian White and Darius McCrary? What a choice your character had.

Chrystee: Yeah, yeah. Well, it was it’s so interesting, because Darius, Wesley Jonathan, and Caryn and I, we all did this movie that really wasn’t the best movie in the world, but people love it. So, I don’t say anything bad about it, but we all did a movie together back in the day, which is how we all met. Then, fast forward to doing this together. I mean, Darius is a very energetic, sweet, breezy, lovable teddy bear. He’s just the sweetest guy, and it was it’s always a joy. Brian is completely opposite. Brian is a little more low key, very business oriented. You know, “let’s get this done” kind of thing. Very focused, you know, that type. Darius is more like, “Hey, everybody, I love you guys! What are we doing today?” So, they’re completely different character people, like just people in general, and they fit their characters to a tee, because Brian’s character is really intense; he’s so intense. Then, you have Darius’s character, who’s kind of like, you know. So, it was a joy to work with both of them, because they’re completely opposite. Completely opposite, but great people. Great people.

Suzanne: Good. Brian has been in so many great things. I just love him. And Darius was on The Young and the Restless. So, you actually have that in common with the soap. It’s funny, because he was brought in to sort of replace Shemar Moore’s character, and it didn’t really work, and I think it might have had to do with the directing or something, the writing, because this character that he’s playing in your show reminds me a lot of Mr. Moore’s character when he played him, and I think if they had given him the right writing and direction then he would have worked better as that character, because…they sort of made him boring in the show. That’s unfortunate, because he’s obviously a very good actor.

Chrystee: Yeah, yeah.

Suzanne: So yeah, I know that a lot of times fans blame the actor when it when a lot of it has to do with the writing and the directing and other factors that we don’t even know about.

Chrystee: Yeah, I mean, it happens, and it’s not it’s also not easy to replace somebody. I came in replacing — her name was Lena Cardwell on Passions, and I remember, in the beginning, people were a little, you know, “Well, no.” Then, I stood my ground. I had good skills, and people accepted me and loved me, and I didn’t have any issues with the transition.

But when the new girl came in, Cathy Doe, she came in, and I’ll never forget, because I remember, we ended up the week that I left was the day that she started, but that same day, we worked on a film together, and we happened to go [unintelligible] film. I know she thought I wasn’t going to like her, or would be standoffish or whatever, because she’s taking my role. And the first thing I did, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, we get to meet! Do you have any questions? Make sure you do you. Don’t try to be like me; just create your own character.” And she was just like, “Oh, my god, she was so nice to me.” She said this in an interview, and I responded back, because the same people who interviewed her interviewed me. I said, “Well, I had to tell her, and for everybody out there, I chose to leave the show.” I wanted to give another woman, another black woman, in particular, the opportunity that I had. It was just time for me to move on. But it’s always love. It wasn’t like she came in and auditioned or something and talked her way in and took my role away from me. No, that’s not what happened. I chose to leave. I wanted to give another opportunity to another amazing actress, and she got the opportunity to do it.

But I just think, in this industry, people can be so insecure about somebody taking over. And not to say stuff like that doesn’t happen, but I just don’t see it that way. I don’t hate on reality star people, or Instagram, people who are getting roles now. I don’t hate on other actresses who are younger than me or whatever the case may be, or have a better body than me or are better actors than me or are prettier than me. I know that I’m talented, and no one can take that away from me.

And now, we’re in a place where you can create your own destiny. It wasn’t like that when we started back in the 90s, in the 2000s and stuff. Things were not like that. You couldn’t create your own projects, because we didn’t have cell phones. We didn’t have little cameras and stuff like that that we could create our own projects. So, now, if you’re hating on other people, then you have an issue, because you can create your own shit.

Suzanne: That’s right. So, I used to watch you on Passions,. Do you still keep in touch with any of the actors on that show?

Chrystee: I keep in contact with Donn Swaby, who played Chad, the original bad. I still speak to Rodney Van Johnson who played my father, and I still keep in contact with Tracey Ross who played my mom on the show. Then, Brook Kerr and Lindsay Hartley who played Whitney and Theresa, a lot of them, and Sam, I keep in touch with all of them on Instagram or Facebook. So, I feel like I talk to them, but then I’m like, “Oh, but do I?”…I’m like, “Oh wait, this is on Facebook.” So, I never know if Facebook is a false – Like, is it a false communication or is it really real? You know what I mean? Because in my mind, I’m like, “Oh yeah, Jade Harlow. I talked to Jade,” but the question is do I really?

Suzanne: Yeah, I think it depends on the actor and how active they actually are on Facebook. I mean, some people just post on Twitter, and they have it set up to go directly to Facebook, and they don’t interact very much, whereas others like yourself are more active.

Chrystee: Yeah. So, I still talk to them all the time, via Facebook, like, even the character that played Ivy, we all keep in contact but, but then I’m like, “But do I?”

Suzanne: Hey, it’s like the rest of us who keep in contact with our old friends or old ex-coworkers or high school friends or whatever. It’s the same thing. Nobody has time to call up every single person that you ever knew.

Chrystee: Right, but I can say that if I ever needed something, I’m sure that I could hit any one of them up and say, “Hey, I need something. Can you help?”…I mean, all of them – They, actually have reached back out and were like, “Oh, what do you need,” blah, blah, blah. So, I mean, I keep in touch with them enough in that sense, but yeah, I talk to most of them.

Suzanne: Great. Brook is on General Hospital right now.

Chrystee: So happy for her. She just had a birthday too, yesterday.

Suzanne: Oh, okay. Cool. And then the actor who plays Sam, he was just in a Lifetime movie over the weekend. I don’t remember the title off the top my head. So, you have something coming out called The Myth of Control. Can you tell us about that?

Chrystee: Oh, yeah. So The Myth of Control is a web series that I had the pleasure of acting and directing an episode. There’re seven episodes. And Mikail Chowdhury, the creator, he reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’d love to collaborate with you, and would you like to not only act, but I would love for you to direct.” And I was like, “Direct? What?” I’ve done stage plays and musicals and stuff, but I hadn’t really direct anything via film or television. So, after putting it off, and kind of sending other directors his way, he was like, “Hey, no, I still want you to do it, do one of these episodes.” And I was like, “Um okay.” So, I said “yes,” and oh my God, that was the best experience that I I’ve had in so long. It felt like the first time I’d ever seen myself on TV. It was that excitement, that joy, because we shot – This was the special part about it is that we shot during COVID, the height of COVID. We sent everybody – because we were sitting around. We were like, “Okay, what are we going to do? What can we do? Why don’t we send everybody a cell phone and lighting and send it to each actor?” None of the actors got a chance to rehearse. None of them saw each other. They didn’t interact with the other actors, if they had somebody in the same scene with them. Everybody shot at their own house; they had to use their own significant other to do the lighting and sound, blah, blah, blah. I had to direct over Zoom. And on top of the fact that I’m directing it over Zoom, my two actresses were deaf. So, imagine trying to communicate via Zoom, which we’re on right now, and communicate with deaf actors, when you don’t even know sign language.

Suzanne: So, what how did you do it?

Chrystee: There is something called Google Meets. They translate. They’re amazing. Thank you Google Meets. But they translated the words so that they could read what we were saying.

Suzanne: So, they had a life transcript, essentially.

Chrystee: Yes. So, that was how we were able to communicate, but it was so amazing, so beautiful. It made me realize that I have so much to give, like I’m a great director. I know how to interact with the actors. I know how to get out of them what they need. Some directors are more technical directors. They don’t know how to speak to actors, but I’m an actor’s director. Every actor communicates differently. You, as a director, have to figure out instantly, “How does this actor communicate? How do they receive information?” Because one person, you can just tell them. Another person, you have to show them. Another person, you just have to give them the psychological background of a character, and then they know how to do it. So, you have to know. And some directors just have to let the actors figure it out, because they’ll get there. They’ll get frustrated if you tell them. So, you really figure it out. You’re like a teacher. I have no idea how to –

Suzanne: I was just gonna say, it’s very much like being a teacher.

Chrystee: Yeah, you have to really be so present, to look at your students, your actor, whatever and really, like, figure out in two minutes how they [unintelligible].

So, this young actress, her name is Natash Ofili, and she is phenomenal. It made me realize how we separate ourselves, how there’s another group of people that we don’t communicate with, that either we’re afraid to communicate, or we just are oblivious to. And it made me realize – I have no deaf friends. Then, it made me realize how we do not cater to all the people in the world, because there’re events that I wanted them to come to, but they didn’t have any interpreters. It was like, “Hey, we want to do this; we want them to come to the film festival,” but they didn’t have any interpreters.

So, you realize that – you know, being a person of color, it’s tough. Things happen that, you know, no sense of even going through all the things, but I can only imagine being a person of color and being deaf and going through that trauma. Because one of the things that she said was during Black Lives Matter, like the deaf community is already small, but Black Lives Matter and the Trump era started happening, and it made it even smaller, because that community became separated. She said it was even worse. I mean, there were things that she was talking about that I didn’t even have a clue. I thought sign language was common amongst, just that world. She was like, “No.” Even from New York to LA, east coast, west coast, the south, they’re all different, because at one point in time, she was saying in the south, they would not teach the black community who are deaf sign language to [unintelligible]. So, if you go to the south, they don’t speak the same language as the west coast or the east coast. And even the east coast and the west coast talk differently. Like west coast, I think they talk with both hands and maybe the east coast talk with one hand? She was like, “Oh, yeah, it’s completely different.” And I was like, “I can only imagine.”

Suzanne: That’s interesting.

Chrystee: So, my point of all of me saying all of that was that directing this has opened my world to something I didn’t even know I was missing, and now I cannot live without them.

Suzanne: Right. And you won an award recently for directing something right?

Chrystee: I did. We won two awards so far. It’s been in twenty festivals. I won Best Director, and it won Best COVID film as well.

Suzanne: So, you’re going to have to do more directing, I guess.

Chrystee: Yes, that would be the goal. That would be the goal.

Suzanne: That’s great. It’s always great when somebody can seize the opportunity and then make something great out of it.

Chrystee: Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing about like how I told you we’re always busy, and yet we’re not busy all at the same time. You’ve go to create your own opportunities.

Suzanne: Is there anything else you have coming up that you want to tell us about? Or that you can tell us about?

Chrystee: I mean, I’m at a place in my life where, you know, you always hear those sayings where they say, “Enjoy what you do, and the money will follow?” I used to always look at people and go, “What?” In the beginning, I used to have fun, and then at some point in time, I stopped having fun, because I was always in hustle mode, trying to make sure that I stayed on top of whatever. I mean, I make a living off of this, what I do: voiceovers and acting and directing and whatever. So, the pandemic just opened my eyes to realize life is short, and you need to have fun and enjoy the process. So, now, I am learning how to do in my 40s martial arts and sword fighting, and now my new thing is learning how to do motion capture in animation.

…They did a video, because I was like, “Oh, I should videotape what I just learned.” And I looked at myself, and I was like, “Oh, my God, I look a hot mess.” And normally I’d be like, “There’s no sense in me starting this, because I just look a hot mess” during the sword fighting, and then I was like, “Yeah, but are you having fun?” “I am having fun.” “Okay, then why don’t you just keep going?” And don’t do it because you’re trying to get to this destination of doing motion capture being a kick-ass action hero on some TV show or film, do it because you’re enjoying it. Then, if something happens from it, okay. So, if you want to learn how to play the piano, don’t do because you’re trying to do something at Carnegie Hall, do it because you always wanted to play the piano, and it’s going to make you happy. So, if I die tomorrow, I would be happy, because I learned how to play the piano.

Suzanne: Right. Yeah, a lot of people don’t understand what you’re saying, and I get it, totally. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what’s going on in your life, do what makes you happy. If you enjoy learning new things, learn new things. It’s not like you have to be fantastic at it. It’s just for you.

Chrystee: And I never looked at it like that. I was always like, “How am I going to make money off of this?” It’s like, when the pandemic happened, first thing I said was, “How am I gonna make money during the pandemic? What in the entertainment industry is still happening?” And it was, “Oh, voiceover work is still happening.” So, what did I do? I built that right there. [unintelligible] So, that’s what I mean. Like, are you having fun with it? You should do it, because it’s fun, not because you get to some destination.

So, yeah, that would be the wisdom that I would leave with my audience is to make sure that you’re having fun, because this life can be long; it could be short, but really, what you want to make sure is that no matter when it comes to an end, you enjoyed every single day of your life. And I don’t think I learned that until the pandemic.

Suzanne: Wow, okay, well, that’s good. That’s a good lesson to learn. It wasn’t a totally wasted.

Chrystee: Exactly. You’re right. You’re absolutely right. It wasn’t. Actually, as many people as I lost and I saw die and go through crazy stuff, it was a good time for me to sit back, because I’ve never taken a break before in my twenty years of doing this; I’ve never taken a break. I don’t take breaks for my birthday, holidays, none of that. I took my first vacation, and, I mean, it was like, “Wow, how come I haven’t been doing this this whole time?” Why was I not doings stuff with my friends when everybody’s like, “Yeah, we’re going on a cruise. You want to roll?” “No, can’t roll. I got to stay here to see if there’s any income coming in from a job.” I was always doing that, and the pandemic made me go, “Wow, all those people who I knew were hustling all the time, and they’re gone,” and they never made it to their destination either. So, you better enjoy this life, because we don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Suzanne: That is true. And thank you. Those are great words of wisdom to end an interview, and I appreciate it.

Chrystee: I appreciate it as well, and thanks so much for the interview.

Suzanne: Oh, thank you. I’m glad I got to watch Monogamy; it’s great.

Chrystee: Yeah, if you get a chance to get to that third season, it’s a doozy. It’s a doozy.

Suzanne: I’m gonna definitely try. I watch a lot of TV.

Chrystee: Of course, of course. That’s why I said if you get a chance.

Suzanne: Yeah, I really enjoy it though. Yeah, I will add it to my list.

Chrystee: All right. All right. Thanks so much. Have a good one.

Suzanne: Thank you. Have a good Thanksgiving.

Chrystee: You too. All right. Bye bye.

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

Chrystee is a television/film actress. She is a native from Middletown, Ohio. She is known for her work on Passions (2004), Scrubs (2005), Steppin’: The Movie (2009), Nashville (2015), Greenleaf (2017),  Spiderman: into the Spider-Verse (2018), Goliath (2019), 911 (2019). 
 
Currently, she is a co-star on the hit show Monogamy available via Amazon Prime (2021).
 
She Graduated with a B.F.A. in Theater from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
ALLBLK RELEASES TRAILER OF THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW SEASON OF CRAIG ROSS JR.’S MONOGAMY

THIRD SEASON OF FAN FAVORITE DRAMA PREMIERES TWO EPISODES

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2ND

WATCH THE OFFICIAL TRAILER HERE

KEY ART AVAILABLE HERE

NEW YORK, NY – August 11th, 2021 – ALLBLK announced today, the AMC streamer’s popular and tantalizing series, MONOGAMY, returns with a third season! Created by husband and wife producing team Craig Ross, Jr. and Caryn Ward Ross, MONOGAMY follows 4 couples who agree to undergo a new type of treatment called “Swap Therapy” to repair their broken relationships…pushing past the limitations and boundaries of traditional marriage. MONOGAMY Season 3 premieres on ALLBLK, Thursday, September 2nd.

Last Season, a dramatic cliffhanger left audiences on the edge of their seat. This season picks up right where they left off, as the couples begin to unravel after the rooftop shooting in Las Vegas takes a toll on their lives. Connor(Darius McCrary) becomes obsessed with finding Harvey(Roy Fegan) and Sincere (Caryn Ward Ross) has to decide if she needs to move on. Sawyer(Blue Kimble) hasn’t healed from a past trauma causing a wedge between he and Caroline(Vanessa Simmons). Caroline gets closer to finding out just who she is, and realizes that revelation could be bittersweet if she has to go on alone. Carson(Wesley Jonathan) and Maggie(Jill Marie Jones) have to take a hard look at their relationship and aren’t sure they like what they see. How far will these couples have to go to save their marriages? Tune in Thursday, September 2nd on ALLBLK.

ABOUT ALLBLK

ALLBLK is an invitation to a world of streaming entertainment that is inclusively, but unapologetically – Black. Featuring a diverse lineup of content that spans across genres and generations, the ALLBLK library includes exclusive original series such as Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy, A House Divided, and Double Cross; must-see independent films, nostalgic Black cinema, popular network TV, lively stage plays, and so much more. ALLBLK is available everywhere streaming services are found – iOS, Android, Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV and Apple TV Channels, Roku and Roku Channels, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, Cox, DISH, Sling TV, Charterand more. ALLBLK content can also be found on WEtv+. At www.ALLBLK.tv, ALLBLK offers a free 7-day trial and thereafter is just $4.99/month or $49.99/year. Keep up with ALLBLK on Facebook at Facebook.com/WatchALLBLK and Twitter/Instagram @WatchALLBLK.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Interview with creators of Covenant, Lace and Partners in Rhyme

TV Interview!

TCA Panel for ALLBLK shows

Interview with creators of Covenant, Lace and Partners in Rhyme on ALLBLK by Suzanne 8/17/21

AMC NETWORKS
CTAM PRESS TOUR SUMMER 2021
ALLBLK’s Developing and Creating While Black: Covenant, Partners in Rhyme, and Lace
Nikki Love (VP, development and production for ALLBLK)
MC Lyte (Star/Co-Creator, Partners in Rhyme)
Kaye Singleton (Creator, Covenant)
Katrina Y. Nelson (Creator, Lace)
Michelle Ebony Hardy (Creator, Lace)

“Covenant” premieres October 14th. There are no exact premiere dates set yet for “Lace” or “Partners in Rhyme” – they’re premiering “in the fall.”

This was an interesting TCA panel because it wasn’t about just one show. There were a few panels like this, where the panel consisted of a group of people from different shows that they had united under one umbrella topic. The problem with that is that we only get one or two questions, and if they have a lot of different stars that we want to talk to, it makes it difficult to choose. This one, though, was mostly writers and producers. I wasn’t familiar with most of them. I believe MC Lyte was the only one I’d heard of before.

I greeted them all and said, “It’s great to see an all-female panel. That’s wonderful.”

Kaye Singleton agreed with a “Yes.” I asked Nikki Love, “Was there a push from the networks to have more female-centered shows on the network?”

She replied that women are their target audience, “so obviously we want to give them characters that they can look at and see themselves or a sliver of themselves and get some representation for them. So yeah, like I said, it wasn’t necessarily a huge push for it but it was kind of ingrained in what we do, content for our women, yeah, for our subscribers.”

I was surprised she said that women were their target audience because when I looked around on Google, I didn’t see anything about that. As far as I knew, their target audience was African-Americans. I guess I learned something here! I felt a little stupid, though.

MC Lyte and Precious Way on "Partners in Rhyme" on ALLBLKI asked MC Lyte about working with Precious Way, who was on “Days of Our Lives” for a while and now plays her niece. I asked her if she saw Precious on Days. She thanked me for the question and said that Precious is also on another show where she plays Brandy’s daughter (that would be “Queens” on FOX). She said, “She’s super talented, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and excited about being in the business so it works out really well.” I pointed out that she seems like the character she plays on her show, “Partners in Rhyme.” She agrees that she is.

MC Lyte was also asked, by another reporter, about the change in rap over the years, since there are more women in it now. She pointed out that hip hop can open the door for artists to go into other fields, even though sometimes “there is a box sometimes that’s put around us” as well as people in the industry that can help you pursue those dreams. She went on to say that it makes sense for women to be rapping their own points of view…”And quite frankly hip hop wouldn’t be the same without the touch of a woman.”

She was also asked how she feels that being an influential rapper has improved her life. She seemed a little flummoxed by that question, but said that “hip hop has been a complete blessing for me through and through.” She thanked her mom for letting her become who she wanted to be, as well as pushing her and supporting her. She thinks that what she achieved is possible for anyone who can work hard. She also said, “But that’s just like all of the women, the creators that are here today. I’m sure that they have been told no at some point in their lives and it didn’t stop them. They continued on with the mission. And so I’m happy to be here amongst all the creators.”

Kaye Singleton produces the drama “Covenant,” which is an anthology show based on bible stories. She was asked how much religion was a part of her life, how she thought of the series, and did she try to shop it to other networks before coming to ALLBLK as well as asked to tell us how the show came about.

Singleton replied that she grew up in the church and since she’s been in Hollywood for 6 or 7 years, has wanted to do something like “Covenant.” She agreed that there was a lack of faith-based programming, and she wanted to make something that spoke to church-goers. She named some religious movies from the past and said that she wanted something that was more modern that younger people would like. She didn’t shop it to other networks. She said she went straight to ALLBLK with the idea. “And thankfully they were really, really receptive to it. And I think Nikki and Brett, that they saw the vision like I saw it. And so when I pitched that show along with the slew of other shows, I was surprised that that was the one — even though that was the one closest to my heart — that they chose it because sometimes it is a little hard trying to figure out how faith-based is going to look and feel in this secular world. But I think the way it’s posed, because it’s not scripture-heavy on the surface, it is really welcoming to all and not polarizing, it’ll appeal to all different kinds of crowds.”

Then Love was asked why she liked it so much. She agreed with Singleton that it was very different from other shows, being faith-based in a modern setting. “So there are a lot of stories that we don’t necessarily hear a lot about in the Bible. So to kind of shine a light on what it would look like today is great and we kind of stayed away from the typical like Noah and the Ark-type of stories. We had Kaye diving into that Bible and plucking out some stories like, ooh, this would be great and it totally applies to today. So it was just something different, something edgy, and told from a different point of view that we really, really gravitated towards.”

Singleton added that they tie in modern dilemmas, such as COVID, infertility and the Capitol insurrection, which is what makes it exciting.

The questions went back to MC Lyte about her show. She was asked about the raps in her show – who writes them and do the raps or the story come first?

She responded that she, Precious and the producers are all writers, and they have two other writers as well. They all write the raps. First they wrote the shows and raps, and then they recorded the songs before they filmed the shows. She added, “we looked at the different episodes and the storylines and said, “Okay, what is going to be most fitting for this area?” And so, we really strategically worked it out and was purposeful with every rhyme.”

She was asked to clarify if “the rhymes are written towards commenting on the episode in some way rather than having the rhymes and then structuring an episode around them?” She agreed with that. She gave an example of two songs that fit into the story but not into the storyline.

Another journalist called MC Lyte, “a hip hop icon and a female influencer in this space who has spent the past several years transitioning into film and TV,” which MC Lyte seemed flattered by. She was asked how the show represents or adds to her legacy.

MC Lyte says that it took her a long time to get to where she is. She feels that other rappers that came about at the same time as she did have already done sitcoms and then moved onto other things, but she’s just starting it. She had been in other sitcoms, but this is the first one where she’s the star. She spoke about those shows, “For Your Love” (1998-2002) and “Half and Half (2004-2006).” She enjoyed having fun on those shows. She felt it was time to do this show now. She wanted to commit to it and to give opportunities to others to be writers, actors, wardrobe and other production people on the show. It brings joy for her to see others “working in their super power…to me, it’s just an extension of being in hip hop.” Her objective is mainly to inspire, so however that works out, she’s happy about it. She likes to try different types of things. “There’s nothing that can stop me if I want to be a photographer one day, and then be an engineer the next, a music supervisor — which I’ve actually done, I spent four years doing not too long ago. For me, it’s just about really creating opportunities for other people. And in that legacy, my thing is to give. So, whatever I’m giving, I get it, then I give it back. So, you know, hip hop sisters, we give away scholarships to young people attending HBCUs. Our partnership is with Dillard University right now. And so I’m just earning money to put kids through school, honestly, part of the legacy.”

Maryam Basir as Lacey McCullough on "Lace" on ALLBLKThe panel was asked what they specifically bring to TV, as black women, that hasn’t been seen before. Love insisted that “Lace” creators Michelle Ebony Hardy and Katrina Y. Nelson talk about their shows first.

Nelson explained that they started their project in 2012, when there weren’t many black women in lead drama roles. Their lead is an attorney, and all of the cast is very diverse and beautiful. They wanted to see black women that weren’t portrayed as drug dealers or crackheads. They wanted to see women that were like them, such as businesswomen…”that as women, we get that moniker that we’re strong, but there are vulnerabilities to us, you know?”

Hardy echoed what she said, saying that viewers will get the chance “to see all the many different layers and personalities and experiences. And again, just being powerful, being intelligent, being beautiful, but also having vulnerabilities, being relatable.”

The last reporter said that he loves “rich and powerful soapy legal stuff” himself, but he wondered if people will want to see that now, since the general public doesn’t love the rich and powerful so much now. He asked if they were concerned that the viewers wouldn’t want to see the rich people “get away with bad stuff anymore.”

Hardy informed him that their character Lace has a lot of enemies, so there are many that won’t want to see her get away with anything. She concluded, “This will be an exciting series. You’ll see.”

Nelson chimed in that she’s a third generation soap opera viewer. She loves the soaps. “Right now, my mom and them, they’re here on vacation. But she’s got to watch her soaps every single day, right? It’s time. I don’t care if she’s on the East Coast or on the West Coast,” she chuckled. She pointed out that Lace may be rich and powerful, but she can also “get down and dirty. And so that’s one of the things that we’re talking about, is that there’s not just one way to be a woman. There’s not just one way to be Black. There’s not just one way for people. Like, you know, she can go in any world, whether it’s the rich and powerful elite, or she can go down in the gutter, into the dungeon. So, just keep watching and you’ll be able to see the diversity with all of our cast in the show.”

MORE INFO:

ALLBLK’s Developing and Creating While Black: Covenant, Partners in Rhyme, And Lace

Premiere Date: Fall 2021 

ALLBLK’s original programming slate is full of bold, unique and imaginative storytelling – from the thought-provoking and contemporary portrayal of classic biblical tales in the new anthology, Covenant, to the trials of an up-and-coming female high school rapper and social media sensation in the new sitcom, Partners in Rhyme, to a prolific Los Angeles attorney who often blurs the lines between right and wrong to protect her rich and powerful clientele in the new legal drama, Lace. The ALLBLK panel of talent and creatives discuss their hard-fought journeys to create high-quality scripted dramas featuring predominately Black cast and crew in Hollywood.

TALENT BIOS: 

Kaye Singleton – Kaye Singleton is a full-time writer and actress born and raised in Central Florida. As an actress Dumplin with Jennifer Aniston, Claws, American Soul, Tales, and more. As a writer, to date she has won 3 screenwriting awards including Best Comedy Script (Archive Entertainment Screenplay Competition – Trap Queen), Best Comedy Teleplay (Content Creators of Atlanta Awards – The Check List), and Best Web Series (Content Creators of Atlanta Awards – Trap Queen). Kaye’s first foray as a writer/producer resulted in her short film, The Check List, which was an official selection and nominated in seven categories for 2019’s Black Women Film Network Short Film Festival, and the 2019 Bronze Lens Film Festival.

Katrina Y Nelson – Katrina Y. Nelson is a multitalented writer, director, comedian and award-winning producer. Nelson produced the web series The Enemy: The N in Me, Life Coach Chronicles (which won the Award of Merit at the Indie Fest), and Breaking Point (winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award – Best Ensemble Cast: Drama at the LA Web Fest), both in 2012. Her short and feature length film producing credits include: Always Remember, A Killer Surprise, Showrunner, and The Wake (which she wrote, produced and directed) Misogynist (winner of the Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival in 2013), Past Impulse (which won the Best Dramatic Short Film Trinity International Film Festival in 2014), and Still (winner of the Audience Award – Best Film-at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival in 2017).

Michelle Ebony Hardy – Writer-Director-Producer, Michelle Ebony Hardy, is the creator of her most recent project, Lace. Hardy’s other credits include documentary short Game Changers: An Exclusive Look at Inclusion in Hollywood and short film Chump City.

Nikki Love – Nikki Love is a skilled producer and line producer specializing in the physical production of filmmaking from development to postproduction. She has produced festival and award-winning feature films, short films, web series and music videos. She creates tight budgets and has great crew and equipment at her disposal. Her specialty is making quality projects at reasonable costs. Putting her skills to use, she most recently signed on as VP of Development & Production for ALLBLK, the number one streaming service for black film & television. As the landscape continues to change for filmmakers, she continues to seek to push the envelope in producing innovative and creative content!

MC LYTE – a legend in the world of music and entertainment – is a pioneering artist and a formidable actress of television and film. Her most recent acting credits include a series regular on last year’s New York Undercover pilot (a reboot of the original Dick Wolf series), and she has recurred on S.W.A.T. (CBS), Power (Starz), and Queen of the South (USA). Lyte’s film roles include acclaimed Sundance Winner Patti Cakes, the Universal hit Girls Trip; Bad Hair, from Director Justin Simien; and the upcoming features Loved To Death, and Sylvie, with Tessa Thompson and Eva Longoria. Her newest venture has her taking on the role of show Creator & Executive Producer alongside Lynn Richardson & Bentley Evans for ALLBLK TV’s sitcom, “Partners In Rhyme.” Recently, MC Lyte made her directorial debut with a feature short film, Break Up In Love. MC LYTE is also an iconic Rapper and DJ. Her groundbreaking music career spans 30 years – this Hip Hop LEGEND was the first female rapper ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award, the first rap artist to perform at Carnegie Hall, and the first female artist to earn a gold single. A true leader in the music industry, MC LYTE has also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House for President Barack Obama. In addition to a busy on-screen career, MC Lyte has several television and film projects — both scripted and unscripted — in various stages of development. She serves as the CEO of Sunni Gyrl, Inc., a full-service entertainment management and production firm that provides executive leadership and customized strategies in the areas of celebrity/artist support, development and management; brand development and management; wealth maintenance; community affairs and outreach; and production / creative services. Her voice work is also well known and admired, representing dozens of Fortune 500 companies as well as being the voice of the BET Awards, Emmys, Grammys, Comcast, NBA, and the NAACP Image Awards. As an author, motivational speaker, and philanthropist, MC LYTE has written books and speaks globally on many inspiring topics from her vast knowledge of the entertainment and hip-hop industries, to entrepreneurialism and economic empowerment. Her charity, “Hip Hop Sisters Foundation,” has presented over $1,000,000 in scholarships.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Covenant on ALLBLK